Imperial Gesture

Damn them all! I'll be a good ruler, but will they care? They see only my age, overlooking my princely accomplishments. I've heard half the court muttering about blocking the succession.

Hemingway II was a drunk; did they care? Staggered down the red carpet right into rehab, and they cheered. Everyone knew Victor was a woman under his cloak, yet they kept mum. Accolades flowed like nectar for weeks after his ascension proclamation of his adoption of an heir from the gutter.

What did they expect from Buttrick the First? Puerility, and they'd see it regardless what I did. The Empire was awash in bread; why not add a circus?

I swore the royal tailor to secrecy. I could see his inner protest — Lengthen the arms, let out the waist, these I can do, but… — but discretion prevented it reaching his tongue.

Despite the traditional noon, I directed a nighttime coronation, under the full moon. Flouting the aristocracy more, I did not enter the amphitheatre with them but arose from the field, smiling to one and all as the crowd parted around me and I made my way up the steps.

Just short of the throne, I pivoted to face my people and bowed with my well-practiced flourish, my cloak coming to rest around my neck and shoulders, the roar of the crowd drowning out the shocked gasps from the peerage assembled behind me.